15 February 2010

Black Pots and New Homes

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure to travel down to Hurricane, UT, just outside of Zion National Part and help out a black pot caterer, my friend Crazy Richard Christensen and his lovely bride Ann. Crazy Richard picked up a gig with a new home developer who was participating in an area Parade of Homes show. This particular developer has an incredible area that includes a panoramic view of the mountain around Zion National Park. Every single home has been designed to blend with the natural landscape and no cookie-cutters - every single home will be unique.

OK, enough of that, let's talk about what we did. Crazy Ricard was asked to set up a Dutch Oven menu that could feed, well, a bunch. We had no idea how many people would be floating through the model home and the giant tent display that that demonstrated all of the features and opportunities the new community provided. The first thing the visitors ran into when they exited the model home and entered the tent was Crazy Richard and yours truly, Splatterdab. The first comments we heard were, "We couldn't wait to get outside to see what was cooking. The aroma was filling the house." For the kiddies and those wanting a quick bite we had dogs and burgers going on a Camp Chief griddle placed on top of a Camp Chef gas stove. For the black pot dishes we had Cowboy Beans, Dutch Oven 'Taters, and to top it all off Crazy Richard crafted some cobblers that were a definite hit. I had one lady take a bite of a slice and before she finished it she asked if she could buy the whole danged cobbler. Made a few bucks on that one I'll tell ya. Of course, in my humble opinion, what really crowned it all was Splatterdab's own Cowboy Coffee. I used the basic recipe I talked about in an earlier post. Well, I'm here to tell ya, that got folks attention and they kept comin' back for more.

I'm guessing that in the two full days I was there we served over 500 visitors, maybe more. They came from all over, San Diego, Las Vegas, Idaho, Phoenix, Denver and other places outside of Utah. Because we didn't know how many would be comin' the key to success here was keeping it simple and keeping it fast. Crazy Richard's menu reflected this necessity. So, that prompted him to offer up the Cowboy Beans, Dutch Oven Potatoes, and cobbler which was actually what many of us know as a dump cake. On arrival at the site in the morning, I got to work brewing the cowboy coffee in an 'ol graniteware coffee pot while Crazy Richard set up preparing the cobblers. I then immediately got to work on the beans and "taters once I got my instructions from Crazy Richard. After all, we was the chief coussie at this affair and I've learned that only a damned fool will argue with a skunk, a woman, or a chuck wagon cook. So, I followed his directions to the T.

As I have promised, each of these posts come with a recipe of some sort so here it goes for what Richard cooked up. By the way, Crazy Richard did this just like the cooks did on the trail - weren't no measuring cups or the like, just use yer own judgment. A heapin' handful here a pacel there. Though the best one was Just fill 'er up?. We were using 14 deeps for the beans and 'taters.

Cowboy Beans
In a medium hot oven fry up some sausage. Once the sausage browns throw in a good amount of diced red, yellow, and green bell peppers and a pacel full of onions. For the beans we used what was handy - pintos, kidney, black, and garbanzos. You want to use enough to almost fill the pot. add water. Bring up the heat so that it begins to bubble but then adust it down so that it starts a slow simmer and let her go. Longer the better. But, we only had about 3 hours before the event got started but that was plenty. Besides, they got better as the day progressed. About 30 to 45 minutes before serving Crazy Richard threw in a couple cans of chunky pineapple. So, this really was a sweet bean concoction rather than a spicy bean mix. If your beans are too thin, sort of soupy, you can do what Crazy Richard did and add about half a large can of Rosarita's Refried Beans. I was skeptical but it worked just fine.

Dutch Oven 'Taters  
Dice up some bacon so that it covers the bottom of the pot. Once the bacon starts to get crispy throw in a couple or 3 handfuls of onions. Pile on some sliced potatoes, enough to nearly fill the pot. We sliced the potatoes the night before and stored them in a bucket covered with water and sealed with a lid. Add salt and pepper to taste and finish off with a smattering of garlic then give it all a real good stir. Over a medium heat and stirring occasionally this should be ready in 35 - 40 minutes. Mind you, this was in a 14 deep so it won't take as long in a 12 regular. Once the steam starts coming out from under the lid you'll know it's ready to serve up. In one day we went trough 4 full pots of these 'taters.

Cobbler (Dump Cake)
This is your basic cobbler that, for many of us, was our first dish cooked in a Dutch oven. As I said, Crazy Richard chose this one because it's simple and he could keep knocking this delicious desserts as needed. So, thorw in some canned fruit filling of your choice. Richard did apple, peach, and cherry, On one I think he combine apple and peach. Next, dump in a box of cake mix. For apple, peach, or pear use a white or yellow cake mix. For cherries, use a chocolate cake mix. Then pour in some soda pop. For the peach, pear, or apple, use 7-Up, Sprite, or similar soda that suits yer fancy. Do not completely mix the ingredients. Just cut through it very lightly a could of passes if that. The natural bubbling that occurs during the baking process in a Dutch oven will mix the ingredients sufficiently. Depending on the weather, this could take around 45 - 60 minutes. About every 15 minutes use a lid lifter to turn the lid 1/4 turn (do not lift the lid off the pot). Also use the lid lifter and lift the entire pot by the bail and turn 1/4 of a turn over the coals. This will help to prevent getting hot spots and reduce the risk of burning. The idea is to have a nice evenly browned cake.

That's it. I really want to thank Crazy Richard and Ann for letting me be a part of their catering event this past weekend. The drive down from Utah was great, since it was my first time going to the St. George area. Some of the most beautiful scenery in the country and best of all, I met new friends, had great food, and had fun.


  1. I am an old Salt Lake DO cooker, but now living in Medford OR. I run a blog "roguedotchovencookers.blogspot.com" If you choose to follow it I hope you enjoy it thank you.
    Ron Clanton
    The Outlaw Gourmet

  2. Sorry for the late reply. I've been on business travel for the last 3 weeks. sure puts a crimp in my DO style. Just started following your blog and will get back to posting on mine.

    This will be a busy week. I'm helping out at the DO WCCO. Should be fun. Should prmve for some great posting fodder.